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Tucker’s Blackwater Loop Trail project receives $1M grant

THOMAS — A grant of more than a million dollars will create a “West Virginia Mountain Railroad National Historic Trail” between Thomas and Cumberland, Maryland, the Friends of Blackwater announced.

The grant of $1,226,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission to the Friends of Blackwater will support the Blackwater Loop and Regional Heritage Trail project.

“To grow regional tourism and the outdoor recreation economy, the project will design and construct an 8-mile Loop Trail and suspension bridge connecting the City of Thomas, the Town of Davis, Monongahela National Forest and Blackwater Falls State Park,” according to the Appalachian Regional Commission’s website.

“Additionally, the project will install trail signage and support planning work for the proposed 107-mile Blackwater Canyon Regional Trail.”

The Blackwater Loop Trail will include key hubs of tourism and employment, historic assets, and other important areas. The trail will connect and improve existing trails, builds new segments and provide new pedestrian/bicycle crossings of the Blackwater River and its tributaries.

“We are underway with a regional plan to connect the Blackwater Loop Trail to the broader region, from the towns of Thomas and Davis, up to Cumberland MD with 20 other heritage locations including towns, villages, employment centers, tourism hubs, and recreational areas in West Virginia’s Mineral, Grant, Tucker, and Randolph Counties and Maryland’s Garrett and Alleghany County,” Friends of Blackwater posted on social media.

This is one of 395 projects that have received $319.3M from ARC since 2015 to help strengthen coal-impacted communities.

“Appalachia is a region with unique downtown communities, vibrant cultural and arts traditions, and beautiful natural assets,” ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin said. “I’m excited that this POWER grant to the Friends of Blackwater will help boost regional tourism, promote outdoor recreation in Northeast West Virginia and Western Maryland, and bolster partnership between two Appalachian states.”

Friends of Blackwater will partner with the U.S. Forest Service and West Virginia Abandoned Mine Land Office on the project, and will serve Grant, Mineral, Randolph, and Tucker counties in West Virginia and Allegany County, Maryland.

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